November is National Adoption Month in the United States, and it’s no secret that venturing into the world of adoption introduces a lot of unknowns. But few journeys into the world of adoption are as complicated as adopting teenage siblings.
These new family dynamics carry greater relational and conversational complexities than they would in cases of infant adoption or even child adoption. In some ways, they also present bigger questions for couples considering adoption.
In talking with Debra and Tom Crittenden, an adoptive couple of teen siblings with Bethany Christian Services, it’s clear that adopting older teens is beautiful and messy and complicated — as any family is — and so worth it.
The Crittendens always considered adopting, especially after Debra saw adoption modeled by family friends growing up. Once Debra and Tom realized they couldn’t have biological children, it was clear that God was leading them to grow their family through adoption.
Tom says, “By the time we got very serious about it, we were looking at the ages and thinking, ‘Well, maybe we need to be thinking about older kids at this point instead of having kids graduating from high school when we are retiring.’ So we decided at that point that we’d start looking at older children in foster care adoption.”
Bethany connected the Crittendens with Mark and Lexy, a brother and sister who waited in foster care for four years for adoptive parents.
“The caseworkers told us that they don’t often get a really, really, really strong feeling about a match, but they really, really, really wanted us to meet Mark and Lexy!”
Debra and Tom eventually adopted the teenaged siblings through Bethany. Suddenly, they went from a family of two to four.
“They were literally the only kids we met during this process and the only kids that lived with us,” Tom says. “So it was very much God’s plan that Mark and Lexy come to be with us because it clicked in very fast when we started on this process.”
There have been challenges along the way. For one, social media complicates boundaries, identity questions, and privacy issues for teens adopted from foster care. And Debra and Tom also worried about helping the kids save for college in just a few years.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Lyndsey Koh